Pictured: LNS President Joe Uehlein poses with AFGE Local 704 Executive Board member Emily Crispell

On February 15 staff at the US Environmental Protection Agency rallied to demand more adequate staffing for the agency that protects our environment and our climate. Council 238 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents EPA employees, said:

The EPA is facing a staffing crisis that is making it impossible for the lawyers, engineers, inspectors and others tasked with protecting our environment in this climate emergency to do our jobs. We need aggressive action from the agency to build out and maintain our workforce for us to even begin tackling the ambitious climate goals laid out in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

Joe Uehlein, president of the Labor Network for Sustainability, spoke in support of EPA workers. Here’s the text of Joe’s talk:

The people who work in this building and in EPA offices across the nation are the first line of defense for people and the planet. Their jobs and their conditions should never be cut.

I believe that our government, which of course means the people, has the compassionate responsibility to see to it that our air and water be cleaned up and remain clean. It is the role of government to make certain that polluters are held in check. This is the best way for our society to make the transition from viewing our world as something to be dominated to something that must be loved and respected.

If we damage the environment we damage ourselves. It’s no accident that people are referring to the climate catastrophe as the sixth extinction. We have known the threat for a long time and we’ve done precious little to prevent the damage we’re now seeing. This time it’s suicide.

The AFGE members who work for the EPA dedicate their lives to addressing this sacred challenge. And it’s not about money, we have the money, we found trillions to bail out the banks in 2008-9. If the planet were a bank we would have already saved it.

The Labor Network for Sustainability is dedicated to creating a world where everyone can make a living on a living planet, and we cannot achieve that goal without these union members who work to protect planet and people every day. We at the Labor Network for Sustainability honor you!

You can watch a recording of the rally here.